HVIA’s appeal to Vic Government to learn from NZ mistakes

In anticipation of the scenario where Stage 4 was implemented in Victoria, HVIA made appeals to Premier Daniel Andrews to recognise the issues that a blanket shutdown had caused to New Zealand’s supply chain.

The Victorian Government will make further announcements today about what restrictions will be placed on business during its six-week Stage 4 lockdown.

HVIA Chief Executive Todd Hacking said mirroring the original New Zealand model would risk devastation to the Victorian and national economies.

“The Premier is having to make incredibly hard decisions to keep Victorians safe in the face of the formidable challenges resulting from this pandemic,” Mr Hacking said.

“We have asked the Premier to exempt freight and the heavy vehicle supply chain, including, manufacturers, component suppliers and businesses involved in the design, service, repair, maintenance and engineering support for heavy vehicles.”

“However, the media speculation has been enough to make HVIA members nervous, particularly given how disastrous the NZ Government’s decision proved to be in the first instance for the heavy vehicle industry.

“While the New Zealand Government exempted freight and heavy vehicle repair and maintenance providers, other critical parts of the supply chain were forced to close — such as manufacturers and component suppliers.

“This was initially due to the urgency of the shutdown but the NZ Government had to repeatedly make changes as the unintended consequences became apparent.

“Just about all heavy vehicle manufacturers and suppliers provide ongoing product support and technical guidance once the part or component is operational or the vehicle is on the road.

“If these businesses were shutdown, the flow on effect would quickly have significant national consequences as Victoria has the highest concentration of heavy vehicle businesses in the country.

“Without these businesses open and trading, the heavy vehicle fleet will likely be compromised and the freight supply chain across the country will suffer significant delays, which will fuel panic and anxiety within the community.”

Mr Hacking said HVIA members had responded proactively to the threat of COVID-19 and had taken various precautions to ensure the safety of their personnel.

“The Kenworth factory closed for four weeks whilst changes were made to the assembly line to ensure the one person per four square metres rule could be adhered to,” he explained.

“Other measures taken by HVIA members in Victoria include, daily temperature checking, lunch-room closures, split shifts, investments in technology, increased cleaning and sanitation, working from home arrangements, and operational COVIDsafe plans to ensure staff and customers remain safe.”

Mr Hacking said HVIA has been impressed with the Victorian Government’s response to the rising health challenge.

“On Friday, Premier Andrews clearly articulated the need to use a deep dive into the health data to activate any escalation to Stage 4 and highlighted that many of the current cases have been in industries that are and would remain operational under any further response.

“In his comments yesterday, the Premier also acknowledged how Victorian Ports support the national freight task and clearly understood the importance of the supply chain that supports freight and logistics.

“All of these businesses play a vital role in keeping the nation’s heavy vehicles on the road and safe.”

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